When it comes to mountain biking I can hold my own, but I will be the first to admit that I am not the greatest on the technical MTB stuff and I’ve always wanted to know what a trail bike has to offer someone like me. Would it suddenly improve my technical skills? Help me conquer my fears? Make me feel more confident? Well I finally got to try the Specialized Rhyme FSR Expert compliments of Specialized Bicycles South Africa and I’ve come to my own conclusions.
First the basics: The Rhyme is a women’s specific trail bike with 650b fun-sized wheels. I had been expecting the bike to be heavy, but was super surprised to find that it wasn’t at all. I didn’t weigh it, but it didn’t feel much heavier than my Era. And I was pretty happy taking it up to Saaltjie in Jonkers. The tires are pretty chunky as it comes standard with the Specialized Butcher (front) and Specialized Purgatory (rear). So I’m pretty sure that the rolling resistance was more than I’m used to, but I can’t say I really noticed it and I kept up just fine on all the group rides that I did on it. And on the plus side, the beefy tires provide so much traction and confidence.
The fork has 150mm of travel which is heaps when you’re used to riding 100mm. I would just lock the fork out when I was climbing – the trick was to remember to open it again for the descent!
I don’t think I’ve ever had such fun on a bike! So. Much. Fun! It just floats over rocks and roots and braking bumps (of which Jonkershoek has many). I was less inclined to brake as much as I usually do and was definitely quite a bit faster (Strava told me so). I got to the end of each section of single track and could not wipe the smile off my face. Like grinning. From ear to ear. The dropper seat post also helped a great deal as it allowed me to move around the bike a lot more than I usually do.
Now I can’t say that it made me a better rider. If I got scared, I’d still uncleat at a section I thought was dodgy. But I do feel that given more time on a trail bike I would have loved to go and sort out those sections that are problematic for me as I gained a lot of confidence on the bike.
If I had to buy my own bike then it would be a seriously tough call between the Era and a trail bike like this. If I had to just ride for the love of it (not compete) then the Rhyme is the bike that I would want to have. Or if I was a billionaire and owned as many bikes as my heart desired then a trail bike would be in my arsenal. Without a doubt. It is the most fun bike I’ve ever ridden.
I really struggled to return the bike and it had to be prised out of my smutty hands with much unhappiness.
I think there is a lot of scope for trail bikes in South Africa and they just look so good when matched with baggies 🙂 The Specialized Rumor is a great trail bike option for the ladies and the Camber or Stumpjumper FSR are rad men’s trail bikes.
Head to your closest Specialized dealer to arrange a test ride. You won’t regret it. Or maybe you will – because it will make you want one 🙂